Yellowface - R. F. Kuang


By R. F. Kuang

  • Release Date: 2023-05-16
  • Genre: Fiction & Literature
Score: 4
From 471 Ratings



“Hard to put down, harder to forget.” — Stephen King, #1 New York Times bestselling author

White lies. Dark humor. Deadly consequences… Bestselling sensation Juniper Song is not who she says she is, she didn’t write the book she claims she wrote, and she is most certainly not Asian American—in this chilling and hilariously cutting novel from R.F. Kuang, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Babel. 

Authors June Hayward and Athena Liu were supposed to be twin rising stars. But Athena’s a literary darling. June Hayward is literally nobody. Who wants stories about basic white girls, June thinks.

So when June witnesses Athena’s death in a freak accident, she acts on impulse: she steals Athena’s just-finished masterpiece, an experimental novel about the unsung contributions of Chinese laborers during World War I.

So what if June edits Athena’s novel and sends it to her agent as her own work? So what if she lets her new publisher rebrand her as Juniper Song—complete with an ambiguously ethnic author photo? Doesn’t this piece of history deserve to be told, whoever the teller? That’s what June claims, and the New York Times bestseller list seems to agree.

But June can’t get away from Athena’s shadow, and emerging evidence threatens to bring June’s (stolen) success down around her. As June races to protect her secret, she discovers exactly how far she will go to keep what she thinks she deserves.

With its totally immersive first-person voice, Yellowface grapples with questions of diversity, racism, and cultural appropriation, as well as the terrifying alienation of social media. R.F. Kuang’s novel is timely, razor-sharp, and eminently readable. 


  • Has you wanting to know what’s next

    By OyinkansolaS
    Kuang’s narration from the protagonist’s POV is stellar, has you intrigued by the lengths people who victimize themselves will go and how they see no wrong in their ills. The perspective of loneliness on the path to success in a dynamic industry is also an interesting angle to view the protagonist’s troubles from..
  • Unusual story

    By nobookclub1
    I get so tired of the same story lines of most books on the market. This story was original and extremely well written. The protagonist’s stress was palpable. I had no idea how this book could end, but the conclusion was satisfying
  • A brutally realistic end

    By SlideLees
    Spoiler alert: Credit where it’s due, the minimal dialogue in this book is incredible for what it displays when it’s used. The entire story feels intriguing based solely on how horrible Juniper Song Hayward is as a person. Seeing her constantly validated by those she surrounds herself with, but never truly has anyone to fall back on is remarkably well done. Lots of Juniper’s relationships are left off relatively unresolved, with them mainly feeling so real with the lack of actual closure. Despite this fact, “Yellowface” still manages to make these instances fit in well overall. General critique comes in with the choice of a horroresque thriller angle. At first it works due to the premise being relatively new and jarring to the reader, though over the course of the book it becomes a bit tedious to read. The novel felt like more of a commentary on the publishing industry and of society than a horror novel/thriller. Regardless it was still a gripping read that kept me invested till the bitter end. (Which was the only thing i’ve taken out a star for. It’s personal opinion, but read the ending for yourself to see if you agree.)
  • Compelling

    By Kayeve
    I have read all of Kuang’s books now. Fascinating insights. Interesting plot lots. Compelling writing style. For this book, perhaps even more than her other books, I’d say it’s a very revealing climb into a narcissist’s mind. All the way to the end. For those who have been abused by narcissistic personality disordered people, it’s very informative seeing how their minds work.
  • Hmm yellowface

    By dlpenni
    Horrible story line and nor relatable.
  • Yellowface

    By ibooksprefered
    Boring, juvenile and trite. Don’t waste your time.
  • Like a memoir!!!

    By a sort of fan who's 45
    This one hit eerily close to home! As a non-famous author who has tried for decades to “make it”, I felt empathy for a truly terrible protagonist. This book was so compelling that I woke up at 4 am (spontaneously)every day for 3 days just to read it. Truly one-of-a-kind!
  • terribly invigorating

    By addisonlovesbooks
    a story like this makes it difficult for me to understand how I feel about it. for one, throughout the course of the book I hated how it made me feel, but the horror of the story kept me turning the page. r. f. kuang narrates june’s story in such a captivating yet humorous way; the choices june makes are discussed in a way that impressed me greatly. this story is not one of happiness, it is about the haunting ghosts of the publishing industry. kuang herself states in the acknowledgments that her book is a horror story about loneliness in the fiercely competitive publishing industry. this book is so drastically different from anything else she has written (i.e. the poppy war trilogy, babel) and I can tell this was something that she had fun writing. it lacks the research that went into babel, but not in a negative way, because this story did not require that sort of work beforehand, to be created into a story worth reading. this is not what I expected to pick up, but I am thoroughly glad with what I read. I don’t think I will ever regret picking up an r. f. kuang novel! a topic I would like to touch on in my review is: racism. it is a prominent theme and topic of discussion in yellowface, but I felt at some points during the story it was there just to make a point. I’m not sure how to exactly explain the way it came off, but one example of this in the book was when june debated the race of a woman internally. she asked herself whether the woman was race 1 or race 2 (I can’t remember what two races were mentioned in this part of the book) and when she didn’t know she wondered if it was racist that she didn’t know. that just rubbed me the wrong way as did a few other scenes, but overall I do not think they took away from the whole book so I tried to ignore them. I also found it hypocritical when june talked about right-wingers in a stereotypical way by acting as if all conservatives are red-necked racists. she assumed this stereotype about millions of people who she knows nothing about. I find it hypocritical because she finds it offensive when right-wingers assume stereotypes about left-wingers. both of which can be fun to poke at from either side amongst friends, but shouldn’t immediately be assumed on either side. of course, that’s instances in the book can be received in many different ways so I understand if you disagree. I don’t mean to complain about the story, it was wonderful, but I just wanted to state some of my opinions. kuang talks about many of her liberal political views throughout the book which I could honestly care less about (everyone is entitled to their beliefs and everyone has a reason to belief what they do!) overall, if you’ve read the exerp and it snags your interest READ IT! but it’s a book that only speaks to a certain audience so if you know your tastes and you don’t think you’ll like it I’d suggest to skip out on this one. it’s a quick, sharp and informative read on the publishing industry, guilt, and loneliness.
  • Disappointed

    By fivestarsue
    It’s very hard for me to get invested in a main character that I hate, so that could be coloring my view. The writing was good, but I felt like the plot was a culmination of what these times are full of-cultural insensitivity, jealousy, and success at any cost. Throw in some mental health issues and you have the basis for Yellow Face. And, it wasn’t just the protagonist who was unlikeable. Not one character had a redeeming bone in their body. No kindness. Nothing uplifting. When I was done reading I felt just the same as when I watch the news. Disappointed and disillusioned.
  • Wow!

    By K.J. Mallett
    Amazing read, everything about this book is great. The imagery, the storyline is original and fresh! I loved this book, couldn’t put it down until I was done!